For my 4th (and they tell me, final) winter break, I’m working for UPS as a driver helper. This company has been pretty darn good to me the past few years. Good pay, good hours. And a good driver to ride along with, Ken. Ken and I are a heck of a team if I may say so myself (mostly because of Ken, I just jump outta the truck and run, drop the package(s), knock on the door, and run back). In fact, so good, that we’ve set ‘records’ of 83 stops (house, business, etc.-but mostly houses) in 2 ½ hours, and yesterday, 80 stops in two hours. (that’s a ton of packages and a ton of houses to deliver to!).
Well, needless to say, if you keep up a pace close to that for 6, 7, or 8 hours, you’re going to be a little tired. And so today, I was riding in the truck pondering some thoughts (as I usually do, if conversation has momentarily ceased between Ken and I) as the snow was sneaking in the open door, wind blowing against my cold face. My thoughts returned to a conversation I’d had with Ken and Rob yesterday at lunch (and numerous times over the past few years at lunch). Rob has been driving a UPS truck for the last 10 years and meets up with Ken and I for lunch. This conversation revolved around how much these guys often get tired or worn out by this job. Ken jokingly says to me, “Aaron, do you do this job every year just for motivation to stay in school or what?’
But as I’m sitting in the truck, snow’s blowing, driving down the road with my door wide open, my thoughts wandering back to that conversation. And the advice Ken and Rob urged me with to make certain that I get a job I enjoy (they both know I’ll be an elementary school teacher for the next few years, and intend to be a pastor after that). From that conversation in Dano’s with snow flying, I thought back to a warmer memory and a similar conversation…
In 6th grade, my family took a week-long trip in October to the Outer Banks, North Carolina. It was our second of two trips there, and we went in October (yes, school was in session) because it was cheaper to vacation there that time of year, and I was always grateful for a week off of school, right? Grandma and Grandpa Adams went with us. One of the days, as everyone else was going out to the beach, grandpa told me the two of us needed to have a talk about growing up. At that age, you can imagine what I expected this “talk” to be about, right?
Grandpa told me to get a pen, a paper, and take a seat. He told me to write at the top of the paper, “Rules”, and to keep the paper someplace that I’d be able to look at it from time to time. He proceeded to tell me what to write down, and then explained what each one meant to him. After vacation, I put the paper somewhere I could see, but since then, I had forgotten where it was, and forgotten most of the conversation. However, I remembered his “4 Rules”. I found the paper this past summer when I was cleaning my room, and largely due to nostalgia, it’s been sitting on one of my shelves ever since.
The first rule was exactly the same as the advice that Ken and Rob (as well as countless other people I’ve interacted with-usually people who don’t enjoy their job, but some who do). Here’s what Grandpa’s 4 Rules are (verbatim):
1)You’ve got to have a job doing something you like.
2)You have to be nice to people even if they’re not nice to you.
3)You can choose any area of the country that you like to live in, but you’re better off doing it early.
4)Always listen to older, or any, people when they try to give you advice.
As I look over these “Rules” today, I think they’re pretty sound pieces of advice. At the moment, I think the only thing I would tweak is in #3 a little bit, largely due to my conviction, and I’m fairly certain I would even say ‘calling’, to spend most of my days in another country someday. Thus far in my life, #4 has been more helpful to me than I can realize. I don’t know that I can grasp how much I’ve benefited from asking questions or simply listening to just about anyone, especially older people. Thank God for older people, and for people who are intentional about sharing their wisdom, and may we all be humble enough to accept, test, and learn from it.